Time cannot appear on the face of the Statement of Financial Position, but if it could, it would probably be one of the most important assets of the business. In the world of business, time is a frequently undervalued resource, despite not having any physical value. It allows organisations to plan, make decisions and control their activities and finances effectively. However, time also has the power to take these benefits away.
Procrastination seems to be the motto of some organisations, but finances are not immune to this treatment. It is worsened by the fact that many investments made by smart money management will not see returns immediately – time is a waiting game that many people don’t want to play. However, the costs of failing to manage your finances in the short-term, can have seriously damaging effects for the financial future of the organisation.
Lots of people have the common misconception that time management itself takes lots of time to get right. The problem with this is that efficient time management can be achieved by making minor changes to a daily routine, or to personal habits which accumulate over time, and can make a tremendous difference. Below are a few easy ways to manage both your time and money more effectively.
This method is extremely easy to follow – instead of flicking through piles and piles of paper, do the first task on the first piece of paper, then move on to the next one, and so on. This method not only makes time more efficient, but it also prevents you from pushing more difficult tasks towards the bottom of the pile, reducing your ability to procrastinate. Although this method may seem relatively outdated in the computerised business world, smaller businesses often tend to still use paper filing systems.
Take a few minutes out every day to think about what you have to achieve during the day, and the importance of each task. This will help to mentally organise them into a prioritised list of tasks to complete in order of importance, deadline etc. However, with prioritising comes flexibility, as new tasks are identified almost every day, and therefore you may need to do this every day, accounting for any new tasks. The table below may be useful to management figures, or those with powers to delegate tasks to other staff.
Lists can be used in almost any circumstance which requires a simple procedural outline. This might be creating a list of work to complete or things to do during your day, or it may be a list of steps needed to be taken to complete a project. The aim of creating lists is to try and help you remember all of the things you need to do – as our days are always so busy, and we can’t be expected to remember everything right? The trick to keeping lists is to keep them simple, otherwise you may spend more time managing your lists and keeping them up to date than you do your work!
‘Do Not Disturb’
It’s very easy to get distracted, particularly when the work you are doing is tedious and you want to escape for a short while – it’s human nature, but these ‘short while’s’ can soon add up to large amounts of wasted time. If you’re the kind of person who is easily distracted by people walking past your office door, or if you are able to see through windows in your office into other communal areas, a simple way to reduce your distractions may be, if possible, to rearrange your office so that you aren’t facing these windows.
(No you didn’t misread the heading!) This may be surprising and go against everything you’ve ever been told, but it can be explained by simple maths. By doing one task at a time, your attention is solely focussed on that task, however when you multi-task, your attention is divided between the number of tasks you are doing, for example doing two things at once means your attention is split 50:50, three things at once, 33:33:33 and so on. Instead, completing each task individually ensures that you make fewer mistakes, which in the long run will save you time.
There are many other time saving techniques to help you manage your time much more effectively, and you may be able to come up with some of your own to tailor them towards your own job specifically.
Managing Personal Finance
Money Management Apps
There are apps out there which allow you to keep track of your spending, and help to produce weekly/monthly budgets based on your expected income and expenditures. For example, a useful app for students is My Student Budget Planner, which allows you to input your income, fixed outgoings, budgeted period, and produces a spending allowance for the budgeted period. Many of these apps are free to download, and for the amount of money they could save you, they may prove invaluable, so download one now and give it a go!
Online banking is a wonderful thing. Get instant access to your account balance, deposit cheques with a smartphone or scanner, make quick and convenient money transfers, and set up automatic bill payments so you’re never late to pay a bill. Not only does it save you time by being so easy to use, it is also very secure and possibly the best part – it’s paperless!
Gamification is the application of the principles of gaming to situations. Many personal financial goals are long-term e.g. retirement, paying off loans/mortgage etc, but the principles of gaming apply that there should be short-term goals to keep you moving towards those long-term goals. By applying gaming techniques like achievement badges, progress bars, reward points etc. you can gamify your financial goals. There are many ways of doing this, but to name a few; 1. some financial management apps will show a progress bar, and split long-term goals into smaller stages to be completed, 2. reward yourself every time you complete a short-term goal e.g. paying a certain amount off a mortgage could be rewarded by going out for dinner etc. It’s really up to you how you choose to gamify these goals, but it’s one way to have fun whilst managing your finances!
To understand the principles of gamification click here.
For more information on gamifying your personal finance click here.
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